CD Review: Mongrels by Michael Malarkey

Mongrels by Michael Malarkey

Mongrels by Michael Malarkey - Credit: Archant

(Cap on Cat Records)

Having never watched The Vampire Diaries (Buffy was the de rigeur undead TV show of my generation), I have never experienced Michael Malarkey’s role in the show as the “notorious” Enzo (publicity material’s emphasis), which meant I approached his music career without any preconceptions.

It certainly wasn’t the sort of music I would have described as “folk-tronica”, which is a phrase Metro has bandied about, being closer in tone to the works of Chris Isaak, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, with a brooding sense of menace hanging over much of the album.

There’s a poetic feel to his lyrics, a growling melancholy to his vocals, and whether it’s his acting background or a genuine belief in what he’s singing, but also a raw honesty to these songs, as if he’s actually laying his soul bare for public examination.

Malarkey’s own descriptions of his work are burdened with Hollywood pretension, which is a pity as they actually stand up to scrutiny without the need for any pomp and circumstance. He has succeeded in making the move from acting to music with apparent ease, and it’s far better to allow his songs to speak for themselves instead of resorting to over-analysis and explanation.